In entering the deferred prosecution agreement, Commerzbank admitted and accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct in violation of IEEPA, and Commerz New York admitted its criminal conduct in violation of the BSA. Commerzbank further agreed to pay $263 million in forfeiture and a fine of $79 million for the IEEPA violations, and to pay $300 million in forfeiture in connection with the BSA violations, which will be remitted to the victims of a multi-billion dollar securities fraud scheme that was permitted to operate through Commerzbank. Commerzbank also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls and to cooperate fully with the Justice Department, including by reporting any criminal conduct by an employee.
A four-count felony criminal information was filed today in the District of Columbia charging Commerzbank with knowingly and willfully conspiring to commit violations of IEEPA and Commerz New York with three violations of the BSA for willfully failing to have an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, willfully failing to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent accounts, and willfully failing to file suspicious activity reports. Assuming the bank’s continued compliance with the deferred prosecution agreement, the government has agreed to defer prosecution for a period of three years, after which time, the government would seek to dismiss the charges.
The New York County District Attorney’s Office is also announcing today that Commerzbank has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, and in the corresponding factual statement, Commerzbank admitted that it violated New York State law by falsifying the records of New York financial institutions. In addition, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is announcing that Commerzbank has agreed to a cease and desist order, to take certain remedial steps to ensure its compliance with U.S. law in its ongoing operations and to pay a civil monetary penalty of $200 million. The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) is announcing Commerzbank has agreed to, among other things, pay a monetary penalty to DFS of $610 million. The OFAC has also levied a fine of $258.6 million, which will be satisfied by payments made to the Justice Department. In total, Commerzbank will pay $1.45 billion in penalties.
“Commerzbank concealed hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions prohibited by U.S. sanctions laws on behalf of Iranian and Sudanese businesses,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Commerzbank committed these crimes even though managers inside the bank raised red flags about its sanctions-violating practices. Financial institutions must heed this message: banks that operate in the United States must comply with our laws, and banks that ignore the warnings of those charged with compliance will pay a very steep price.”